The National Primary Health Care Development Agency says there is no definite date for when the 100,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria.
The NPHCDA, however, said the vaccines would most likely arrive in February, adding that all government officials, vulnerable persons and health workers would be the first to get them
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said this during an interview with Bloomberg published on Thursday. The Federal Government had in December stated that the vaccines would arrive by the end of January.
Last week, however, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 shifted the date to February but did not give the specific date.
However, speaking to Bloomberg, Faisal said Nigeria was waiting for confirmation from COVAX which is an initiative backed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
On when the vaccines would arrive, he said, “We are waiting for final confirmation from COVAX on when the first doses will arrive,” adding that the “most recent indication is they are expected in February.”
The WHO had last week warned again a “me first attitude” in the distribution of vaccines.
It remains unclear why government officials some of whom have no pre-existing conditions, are being placed on the priority list.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control says it supports the Federal Government’s decision to reopen schools for the second term of the 2020/2021 academic session because the benefits of having children in school outweigh the risks of transmission of COVID-19.
The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, gave the reasons at the Virtual Plenary Session and Annual General Meeting of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria in Lagos on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the theme of the event was, ‘Child survival in Nigeria amid COVID-19 pandemic: Issues, challenges and way forward’.
He noted that the current data and statistics for the welfare of children in Nigeria was sad and troubling, and that having them stay out of school would further aggravate the situation by denying them what they require to have healthy and productive lives.
The director-general said Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school children; nearly 31 million of children under the age of five and about half of the population under the age of 15.
He added that 10.5 million children were currently out of school and closure of schools may result to 10 million being out of school forever.
“You can see why some decisions around school reopening are so difficult to make by the federal government; how do you balance the need to control this pandemic versus the other requirements children need to live healthy and productive?
“This pandemic is threatening efforts to prevent major causes of child morbidity and mortality, and threatening the small gains we have made over many years in a very difficult context that is ours.
“If things get out of hand, we may and we will consider this condition but we all understand that the lockdown had a huge impact on children.”
Earlier, the NCDC boss said the worst outcome of the virus had spared children because its manifestation in them was less severe, often asymptomatic and often not clinically significant to visit the hospitals.
“Just 10 per cent of our cases have been confirmed in children and one per cent deaths. The few deaths that occurred in children were likely to have happened to them through morbidity that led to deficits in coping with the virus,” he said.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu called for collaboration among governments, schools and parents to effectively protect children from contracting the virus.